Behind the Scenes: A Look at How We Verify Fundraisers During a U.S. Crisis
It’s common to see our community start fundraisers for themselves and on behalf of others after crises like hurricanes, wildfires, and tornadoes. During the West Coast wildfires in 2020 that hit California, Oregon, and Washington, the GoFundMe community raised millions to help those affected.
During a crisis, you need assurances that your funds will make it to those in need — and the hundreds of GoFundMe employees behind the scenes are working around the clock to do just that.
What happens on GoFundMe during a crisis?
After news reports of a crisis, GoFundMe mobilizes a crisis team that immediately starts monitoring our site for any fundraisers that are created to help the individuals, families, and communities affected.
Our goal is simple: protect your generosity and ensure that every dollar donated on our platform reaches the right place.
- Our Customer Support team offers coaching and account support for our organizers and donors. At any given time during a crisis, they are working hand-in-hand with organizers to set up fundraisers, add recipients, and share updates.
- Our Trust & Safety team reviews fundraisers created in response to a crisis. They verify personal information, the identity of recipients, and they make sure that all funds raised on GoFundMe are going to the right place. They work closely with state and local officials and law enforcement to assist in any investigations.
- Our Communications team works with reporters and newsrooms across the globe to verify fundraisers, and to share the stories of the individuals, families and communities impacted. They also work with state and local officials on the ground to brief them on the steps we take to protect donors and recipients.
How does GoFundMe verify fundraisers?
Once our team has identified fundraisers related to the crisis, we immediately begin the verification process. There’s a lot that happens behind the scenes and we and our payment processing partners work around the clock to do this.
Fundraisers are verified through our global Trust & Safety team. This team accounts for one-quarter of GoFundMe employees around the world. We have a team of experts with diverse backgrounds making sure that donors are protected and all funds are safely delivered.
To verify, we use proprietary tools on par with the financial industry and we work closely with our payment partners. Together, we verify personal and banking information, and we require government-issued identification, address details, and other forms of ID.
For a fundraiser to be considered verified, it means:
- We know the identity of the organizer, who they are raising funds for, the organizer’s relationship to the recipient of the funds, and how the funds will be used, or;
- We are safely holding all funds raised until the recipient is added to the fundraiser to withdraw, and their identity has been confirmed.
In most cases, when an organizer is fundraising on behalf of another person or family, they will never have access to the funds raised.
Our payment processors use the same secure and encrypted payments technology as banks to ensure donations are processed safely. This technology, along with the GoFundMe Guarantee, are two features that separate GoFundMe from other peer-to-peer online giving platforms.
What does it mean if a fundraiser isn’t verified?
There are some cases where a fundraiser has not been verified by our Trust & Safety team. That does not mean we suspect any fraudulent activity. It simply means that our team or our payment processors have yet to confirm the information mentioned above.
What’s important to know is that while we and our payments partners work behind the scenes to verify information, a fundraiser can still remain active and can still receive donations. The organizer or recipient cannot withdraw funds until GoFundMe and our payment processors have verified all information.
When a fundraiser is verified, we often share it on our social media channels, with news organizations, and on our crisis hubs. GoFundMe will launch a crisis hub to identify all verified fundraisers related to that crisis. These hubs are updated on a regular basis as new fundraisers are verified by our Trust & Safety team.
Here are some examples of our crisis hubs:
Our team is here to protect your generosity
In crisis situations, people often ask, “Is there anything we can do?” and sometimes the answer is to help financially. We’re proud of the kindness, generosity, and empathy our community shows every single day, and you can feel confident when a crisis strikes, our team is working tirelessly to ensure that your donation safely reaches the right people.